Appeal to all RTI Activists and Information-seekers to submit to Assistant Public Information Officers (APIOs) their First Appeals, Second Appeals and Complaints as required under section 5 (2) of the Act for forwarding same forthwith to First Appellate Authorities and Information Commission
RTI Activists and Information-seekers should compel APIO ( Assistant Public Information Officer) to receive their applications, First Appeals, Second appeals and complaints and forward the same to the PIO, First Appellate Authority and Information Commission respectively. If he refuses, the Appellant or Complainant should file complaint against APIO directly to State Information Commission under section 18 of the RTI Act.
As per section 5 (2) of the RTI Act, every Public Authority shall designate an officer as Assistant Public Information Officer (APIO) to receive the applications for information or appeals under the Act for forwarding the same forthwith to the Public Information Officer or First Appellate Authority under section 19(1) or State Information Commission or Central Information Commission.
The State Information Commission while adjudicating Second Appeal Case No. 375/09 has issued direction to the State Govt. to issue appropriate guideline/instruction for functioning of APIO designated under section 5(2) of the RTI Act. Accordingly, on 7.1.2013, the State Govt. in I and PR Dept., nodal Dept. issued guideline to all Principal Secretaries/ Commissioner-cum-Secretary/Special Secretaries of Govt. Departments for smooth functioning of the APIOs of different public authorities in order to remove any functional difficulties faced during implementation of the Act.
Despite the guideline in place, the APIOs are seen refusing to receive the first appeal petitions from the appellants ad their by harassing them. In case, RTI Activists and RTI Users find APIOs refusing appeals and complaint petitions, they should directly file complaint to Information Commission to get justice. The Notification issued by I and PR dept. dated 7.1.2013 and sent to all departments in respect of guidelines for APIOs is as follows.
Guidelines for APIOs
a. The APIO shall receive all RTI requests / applications from persons seeking information and forward the same application to the appropriate PIOs by recorded mail ( such as Registered post or speed post) within 5 days of the receipt the application as envisaged in the setion-5 of the RTI At, 2005.
b. The APIO shall receive all first / second appeals from the appellants and forward the same appeals to the First Appellate Authority ( FAA)/ Odisha Information Commission as the case may be within 5 days of the receipt of the appeal by recorded mail ( such as registered post or speed post).
c. APIO should render all assistance to the PIO, referred PIO and FAA while disposing RTI Applications and first appeals respectively.
d. APIO should maintain a Register containing the details of RTI Applications / appeals received ad forwarded to appropriate quarters with date & time and mode of transmission.
e. APIO should render all assistance to the RTI Applicant during inspection of records.
f. APIO should render all assistance to PIO during compilation of annual report under section 25 of the RTI Act.
g. APIO should render all assistance to the PIO while updating the proactive disclosure ( 17 manuals) and e-filing of applications at RTI portal in regular interval.
h. APIO should render all assistance to the PIO while maintaining RTI registers, files, Cash Book, records etc. and many other matters relating to the implementation of RTI Act.